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Zion official discusses vandalism at park, federal investigation ongoing

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Posted at 9:08 PM, Nov 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-05 23:08:13-05

ZION NATIONAL PARK - Federal prosecutors are waiting to review the investigation into graffiti at eight national parks, including some in Utah.

Casey Nocket, 21, of New York is accused of defacing rocks across the western United States, including some in Zion National Park. Photos of the paintings at parks began appearing on social media a few weeks ago.

“Graffiti in a park is vandalism, it’s not art,” said Zion National Park spokesperson Aly Baltrus.

Baltrus said they aren’t disclosing the exact location of the painting inside the park. Rangers try very hard to keep graffiti out of the park, and said, depending on the location, it could be difficult to remove.

“Whether somebody scratches in or draws on, the removing itself actually does damage to the resources,” Baltrus said. “It can chip rock, also if it’s anywhere near cultural resources.”

The graffiti in Zion comes as painters from across the county have come to paint inside the park. Twenty-four painters are capturing the canyon during the sixth annual Plein Air Art Invitational.

As part of the event, the artists talk to people about preserving nature. Murray artist Michelle Condrat said she recognizes an artist’s need to be expressive, but she said graffiti in the canyon is not the way to do it.

“I understand people doing that if it weren’t permanent, I guess,” Condrat said. “But because she used acrylic paint and it was permanent, I don’t think that’s that cool.”

Even those who leave temporary art could face felony charges. In the case of Nocket, the National Park Service is still consulting with the U.S. Attorney’s Office about potential charges.